Cholesterol Heavy Food to Avoid

With the alarming increase in obesity in the United States, millions of people are psyching themselves to have a low-cholesterol diet. This is evident in the mushrooming of health food stores across the country and the surge of TV programs devoted to promoting healthy eating.

Not to mention the reminder "eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet" posted on the fridge door, on the kitchen wall, and on the room mirror. Many have tried to follow this mantra but failed. So what are the high-fat, cholesterol-heavy foods and how can we avoid them?

The good

Not all fats are bad to your health. There are the unsaturated fats or the so-called "good fats", which can help regulate blood cholesterol levels, stabilize heart rhythms, an ease inflammation. Vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts contain saturated fats.

There are two kinds of good fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Olive oils, peanuts, canola, avocados; pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, and pumpkin and sesame seeds are high in monounsaturated fats, whereas soybean, corn, sunflower, flaxseed oils, fish, walnuts, and flax seeds are high in polyunsaturated fats.

The bad

You need to reduce intake of saturated fats or "bad fats". Your body can naturally make all the saturated fats you need, so eating foods high saturated fats is definitely a no-no. Meat, seafood, ice cream, cheese, and milk are high in saturated fats. Plant foods such as coconut and coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and palm oil have also high saturated fat content.

Saturated fats have undesirable effects in your heart. They increase total cholesterol by elevating harmful low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Additionally, these bad fats also raise the protective high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Unsaturated fats are much better because they lower the bad cholesterol, while raising the good ones..

The very bad

Trans fatty acids, popularly knows as trans fats, are worse than saturated fats. They are produced through the hydrogenation process (heating vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas). Beware of those mouth-watering burgers and French fries you eat at fast food restaurants – they reek of trans fats.

Commercially prepared baked goods, processed foods, margarines, and snack foods are also high in trans fats. They have undesirable effects to your cholesterol levels, even worse than saturated fats since trans fats lower good HDL and raise bad LDL.

Avoiding cholesterol-heavy foods

Here’s a simple message to guide you: "Out with the bad and the very bad, in with the good." In general, 7% of total calories is a good target. Because dairy fats and red meat are the major sources of saturated fats, you should keep these low to reduce your intake of saturated fats. Limit your visit to fast food chains and limit your intake of fried foods. You should also check food labels for trans fat content.

In addition, try to replace red meat with fish, poultry, nuts, and beans as much as possible. Turn your back also on full-fat dairy foods and whole milk; instead, go for lower fat versions. Instead of butter, try to use liquid vegetable oils that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in cooking. Finally, include foods rich in omega-3 fats in your daily diet: fish, canola, walnuts, or ground flax seeds.